US News & World report releases top SC college rankings


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U.S. News & World Report has released its annual list of South Carolina’s best colleges.

S.C.’s largest schools, Clemson University and the University of South Carolina, remained in the top 60 public schools in the nation, but both slipped in the rankings compared to 2020.

In the 2020-2021 school year, Clemson tied for No. 27 best public college in America; USC tied for No. 44. The most recent ranking places Clemson at No. 30 and USC at No. 54. Both were ties.

It wasn’t all bad news for USC and Clemson. USC’s international business school retained its long-standing No. 1 nationwide ranking, and the university ranked No. 3 nationwide in first-year experience. USC ranked higher than any public institution in the nation in the first-year experience category.

“I am thrilled to see the continued growth and recognition of our academic programs,” USC Interim Provost Stephen Cutler said in a news release. “Knowing the world-class faculty that we have and the unique opportunities we afford our students, it comes as no surprise to me that we continue to be well-represented within the U.S. News and World Report’s academic rankings.”

For its part, Clemson has remained in the top 30 ranked public institutions for the last 16 years, the university said in a news release.

“The value of a Clemson degree, and the impact Clemson University continues to make on the citizens of the State of South Carolina, remain our highest priority,” Provost Bob Jones said in a news release. “It’s always great to be recognized among national leaders in these rankings, especially by our peer institutions for specific programs and colleges.”

Furman University and Wofford College went the opposite direction, both moving up in the national liberal arts colleges rankings. Last year, Furman ranked No. 52 and Wofford ranked No. 69. This year, Furman tied for No. 46 and Wofford tied for No. 67. The Citadel ranked No. 2 in top regional universities throughout the South.

“These rankings, and the recognition by university leaders across the country, reflect the value of a Furman education and our innovation in delivering it,” Furman University President Elizabeth Davis said in a news release.

U.S. News & World Report compiles the rankings by factoring in graduation rates, class size, faculty pay, a survey of educators throughout the country and more, according to the ranking’s methodology.

Six of South Carolina’s eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities ranked in the top 78 HBCUs nationwide. There are 107 HBCUs throughout the country, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Two South Carolina HBCUs ranked in the top five colleges for social mobility, according to the rankings.

Here is a partial list of rankings for S.C. schools in various categories.

Public schools

  • No. 30: Clemson (tie)
  • No. 54: USC

National universities

  • No. 75: Clemson (tie)
  • No. 117: USC (tie)

National liberal arts colleges

  • No. 46: Furman University (tie)
  • No. 67: Wofford University (tie)
  • No. 128: Presbyterian College (tie)
  • No. 168-222: Allen University
  • No. 168-222: USC Beaufort

Regional Universities — South

  • No. 2: The Citadel
  • No. 9: College of Charleston
  • No. 17: Winthrop University (tie)
  • No. 31: Bob Jones University (tie)
  • No. 38: Columbia International University (tie)
  • No. 40: Columbia College (tie)
  • No. 40: Converse College (tie)
  • No. 44: Anderson University (tie)
  • No. 48: Coastal Carolina University (tie)
  • No. 57: Charleston Southern University (tie)
  • No. 60: Francis Marion University (tie)
  • No. 70: North Greenville University (tie)
  • No. 84: Southern Wesleyan University (tie)
  • No. 88: South Carolina State University (tie)
  • No. 104-137: Coker College

First-year experience

  • No. 3: USC
  • No. 49: Furman University (tie)
  • No. 54: Clemson (tie)
  • No. 64: Anderson University (tie)
  • No. 64: College of Charleston (tie)


Regional Colleges South

  • No. 7: Claflin University
  • No. 11: Erskine College (tie)
  • No. 11: Newberry College (tie)
  • No. 15: USC Upstate (tie)
  • No. 17: USC Aiken (tie)
  • No. 39: Lander University
  • No. 48: Voorhees College
  • No. 53: Limestone University
  • No. 71-93: Benedict College
  • No. 71-93: Morris College.

Historically Black colleges and universities (nationwide)

  • No. 10: Claflin University (tie)
  • No. 36: S.C. State University (tie)
  • No. 46: Voorhees University
  • No. 53: Benedict College (tie)
  • No. 59-78: Allen University
  • No. 59-78: Morris College

Top performers on social mobility

  • No. 3: Claflin University
  • No. 4: Voorhees College
  • No. 7: Newberry College
  • No. 9: USC Upstate
  • No. 19: Morris College (tie)
  • No. 23: Lander University (tie)
  • No. 30: USC Aiken (tie)
  • No. 44: Benedict College (tie)
  • No. 44: Limestone College
  • No. 52: Erskine College (tie)

Lucas Daprile has been covering the University of South Carolina and higher education since March 2018. Before working for The State, he graduated from Ohio University and worked as an investigative reporter at TCPalm in Stuart, FL. Lucas received several awards from the S.C. Press Association, including for education beat reporting, series of articles and enterprise reporting.
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